The COVID Diaries: syndicate 1
The following interview is with an Australian-based head of bond syndicate. It was conducted on 25 March 2020.
Are you working from home? If so, how challenging has the change been?
There is good and bad though. A lot of work is usually ‘barbelled’ at either end of the day – with a busy morning and then a busy evening when Europe opens. Working from home gives the ability to be more efficient in the evenings, as opposed to working a full day then coming home.
The situation is unfolding and we are very lucky that the IT infrastructure at a lot of banks is very good and generally internet in people’s homes is also very good. It is workable but not without its challenges.
How close do you think the market will get to business as usual if we are in a period of social distancing for multiple months, including working from home and little or no face-to-face interaction?
“Nothing is quite as efficient as it is in the office. What would typically be a five-minute meeting at someone’s desk is now a half-hour conference call. It just takes longer to get things done.”
How are you managing client relationships at the moment?
How worried are you in general on the health and economic fronts?
On the economic side, I think it will be quite grim in the short term; the unemployment numbers are likely to become horrific. I have confidence, though, that it will be a short-term blip. A lot of SMEs that need to lay off people will hopefully be able to rehire them once things get back to normal and, given the former employees are a known quantity, the rehiring process is potentially swifter than otherwise would be the case.
It will be real and tough for people at the frontline but hopefully there will be only a small period of bad data coming back.
I have been impressed by the Reserve Bank of Australia’s actions and the amount the federal government will spend. They are also targeting the right people. This will most likely be nuanced as things evolve but its pleasing to see a commitment to deploying stimulus where they can.
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